Deep in the woods of Alabama's Black Belt region, 9-year-old hunter Maggie, daughter of Grand View Outdoors Editor Hilary Dyer, prepared for a hog hunt. Donning her camo attire and face paint, she gathered her gear and tossed it in her pack, ready to spend the better part of her morning in a tree stand with her mom. Hunting with mom or dad usually means that the essential gear will be found in their pack, but Maggie wanted her own hunting pack to carry her field essentials in.
Here is her packing checklist:
Flashlight A flashlight is necessary for any early morning, or late evening hunt you may be on. If you're in snake country, like Alabama, you'll want to make sure you don't have a run-in with any copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes or any other members of the viperidae family.
Chapstick This one is pretty self-explanatory. No one wants chapped lips.
Gerber Crucial F.A.S.T. Every outdoor enthusiast needs a pocket knife. The Gerber Crucial FAST multi-tool is a fast-opening blunt-tip blade that weighs 5.8 ounces. The tool also features seven other components: half fine/half-serrated blade, long medium flat-head driver, long square cross driver, bottle opener, needle-nose pliers, regular pliers and pinch-style wire cutters. There is a safety lock on the blade and liner locks on all components.
Ear Plugs If you have sensitive hearing, or just feel like preserving your hearing for that much longer, ear plugs are a good item to pack. Also, youths who may get jumpy about loud gunfire, or are just nervous in general, may feel more secure having them on their hunt.
Sunflower Seeds Whether a child or adult, a tree stand snack is a must-have for your hunting pack. Some people may suggest picking a snack that is not too loud to open, but when it comes to kids who are new to hunting, it's best to just let them have their comfort snack. If you are afraid of too much noise, simply stick the food in a quiet zip-lock sandwich bag.
Multi-Colored Hair Elastics and Clip Anyone with long hair will understand the necessity of pulling it back at a moment's notice. You can never have too many hair ties.
Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel Those pesky Alabama mosquitoes can sneak up on you, even if you've already showered in bug-spray. They will find that one spot you missed. For that one spot, you've got this itch-stopping gel to keep your kids from squirming around in the stand.
Survival Bracelet Paracord survival bracelets are all the rage, and it's easy to see why. These stylish accessories have a multitude of purposes including as a firestarter, fishing line, used in a snare or to hold things together, as a tourniquet and more.
Carabiner A carabiner has many uses, but for these purposes it's best used with a rope or survival bracelet to hoist your backpack into and out of your treestand.
Cabela's Fleece Hat Even Alabama can get chilly in the early morning and evening. A warm hat is always a good choice for your pack if you are hunting in chilly, early-to-late winter weather. It's best to have as little distraction as possible, cold ears included.
Nikon Binocular Binos are great time-wasters for a long tree stand sit. Now those squirrels having an argument 50 yards off are your own personal reality show. Part of the hunting experience is sharing in all that the woods has to offer, and a binocular can bring the activity into greater focus. Also, your child then becomes your scout when their young eyes see the giant critter coming your way.
Smart Phone For those really dull, nothing's-moving hunts, what better way to keep a child occupied than with some games on a phone?